New Delhi: Sunil Kumar started India’s Asian Wrestling Championship campaign on a golden note by ending a 27-year old gold medal drought in the Greco-Roman category. Sunil has become only the third Indian ever to achieve this feat. The last Indian to win was Pappu Yadav, in 1993.

Sunil defeated Azat Salidinov of Kyrgyzstan by a scoreline of 5-0 on Tuesday (February 18) at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium in Delhi.

Sunil with his comprehensive defence was able to keep Salidinov at bay for most of the bout. Salidinov didn’t have an answer to the strategy of Sunil and finally went down pretty easily.

Earlier, Sunil on his way to the final made an impressive comeback in the semi-final bout. He came back from 1-8 down to win the bout 12-8.  This was an improvement for Sunil from his 2019 performance in the same tournament where he won a silver medal.

After the win, Sunil said, “I am feeling happy to have earned India’s first gold medal today. I have worked really hard on my ground techniques and it feels good to have done better than my last year’s performance.”

Before Sunil’s historic gold medal win, Arjun Halakurki (55kg) won his bronze medal bout defeating Donghyeok Won of Korea. Arjun started the bout slowly and was down by 1-4 in the first period. But, Arjun didn’t give up and came back strongly snatching six straight points with a combination of good defence and attack. The final score at the end of the bout was 7-4 in favour of Arjun.

Though, India’s third medal hope Mehar Singh (130 kg) suffered a setback as he lost his bout against Roman Kim of Kyrgyzstan by a narrow scoreline of 2-3. Mehar was majorly suffering the aftereffects of his wrist injury which he suffered in his semi-final bout earlier.